Review: Uncharted: Golden Abyss [Game On]
I confess, my experience with Uncharted: Golden Abyss‘s big brothers has been limited. I’ve played them for a few hours each, and much appreciated the production values that went into them, but for some reason or another had neglected to stick with them. However, it’s one of those gamer itches I’d always meant to scratch at some point in the future so I was delighted to hear that the PS Vita version, Golden Abyss was to be a prequel taking place before the series initial outing, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. So now that I’m starting out from the beginning of the mythos, how does Golden Abyss fare? Read on.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss starts off briskly with Drake arguing with his partner, Dante before flashing back two weeks before the incident. Drake and Dante along with Dante’s partner, Marisa Chase are exploring a dig site in Panama. At which, a wealth of Spanish conquistador corpses who were apparently poisoned are discovered, and a long, drawn out mystery begins unraveling itself. While the story remains mostly entertaining throughout, there are some pretty heavy-handed plot devices and turns you’ll see coming a mile away. Still though, the voice acting is solid even if some of the dialog’s a little questionable.
Graphically, Golden Abyss is a tour de force of the Vita’s capabilities. Whether Drake is shimmying on the ledge of an ancient ruin, sliding full force down a shallow waterfall, or leaping the distance of a nigh-impossibly large gap to safety with the setting sun in the background it all looks gorgeous. Animation is fluid and not at all stiff, but the occasional graphical hiccups do manifest in the form of clipping issues.
Gameplay in Uncharted remains as solid as its console counterparts. The only shortcoming that I see would be that trying to shoehorn in the PS Vita’s back touch panel for simple actions like climbing ropes feels unnecessary. However, some of the puzzles like performing charcoal rubbings or piecing together literal puzzles using the front touchscreen is actually a nice break from the action. The puzzles do enjoy some enrichment on account of the touchscreen’s use, but most of the touch controls feel tacked on and completely forgettable.
What is unforgettable is just what a solid time you’ll have playing through Uncharted: Golden Abyss. It truly is greater than the sum of its parts and as an action adventure game on-the-go it hits all the right note.s Pacing is solid, chunked up with precise care to make gaming on the go enjoyable. There’s also a ton of replay ability as you can (thankfully) go back through each of Uncharted’s 34 chapters individually to collect hidden treasure you might’ve missed on the original play through. With full trophy support and an online ‘Black Market’ marketplace where you can trade treasures with other adventurers to complete your collection, Golden Abyss hits all the right notes not only as a launch title and show pony for Sony’s new wonder machine, but also stands tall on its own as a solid entry into the Uncharted mythos. Granted it’s not the strongest entry, but it delivers adequately nonetheless and you’d be hard pressed to find a title with more value out of the gate. Plus with a recent price drop to $39.99 it’s an adventure that’s worth checking out for fans and newcomers (like me) alike!
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